EPA Postpones Deadline for Filing Reports On Greenhouse Gas Emissions to Refine Tool

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The Environmental Protection Agency on March 1 indefinitely postponed its deadline for sources to report 2010 emissions of greenhouse gases because it said it needs more time to work on an electronic tool that will be used to facilitate the reports.

EPA said the reporting tool needs more testing and that it expects to complete that work this summer.

According to a rule issued by EPA in October 2009, sources emitting more than 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent annually must measure and report their emissions. About 10,000 facilities covered by the rule had to begin measuring emissions Jan. 1, 2010 (40 ER 2554, 11/6/09).

Cathy Milbourne, a spokeswoman for EPA, told BNA that reporting is expected to begin “in late summer.”

EPA said in a statement that more details about the new deadline will be released in “coming weeks” and that the extension will be made official before March 31, which had been the deadline for sources to begin reporting.

In December, EPA announced that it would postpone until Aug. 31 the deadline for submitting certain data used to calculate emissions.

The latest postponement “will allow EPA to further test the system that facilities will use to submit data and give industry the opportunity to test the tool, provide feedback, and have sufficient time to become familiar with the tool prior to reporting,” according to the statement.

Reactions to Deadline Extension.

An American Petroleum Institute spokeswoman said her group is working with EPA to address some concerns and that moving the deadline was a helpful step.

“API is pleased that EPA has recognized some of the problems with its reporting requirements and is providing more time to resolve the issues,” Karin Ritter said in an e-mail to BNA.

But Lisa M. Jaeger, an energy industry attorney with the Washington, D.C., law firm Bracewell & Giuliani, said the delay is symptomatic of EPA's failure to grasp the difficulties of complying with the reporting rule.

“The electronic reporting tool has to be available and it has to be workable, and that EPA has allowed us to run up this close to the deadline before doing something about this problem is rather disappointing,” she said. She said she was concerned that EPA was not taking the time to fully address all of the complexities of the rule.

It is “great that the EPA is giving industry more time on this but why doesn't EPA take the time to really get it right?” she said. She added that companies will need time to familiarize themselves with the reporting tool and to test it themselves.

“EPA completely underestimates the amount of internal coordination [needed] to comply with the reporting requirements,” she said. “Unless you actually have a fully functional tool and completely clear definitions [of terms within the rule], you run the risk of noncompliance, and it's EPA's job to provide every mechanism to permit companies to comply.”

She said companies trying to use the reporting tool found that it was not consistently functioning.

By Leora Falk

EPA information on the delayed deadline for reporting 2010 emissions of greenhouse gases is available at http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/extension.html.